New windfarm plan blows up a storm

Looking out towards the approximate site of the proposed Belford Burn windfarm from the B6349.
Looking out towards the approximate site of the proposed Belford Burn windfarm from the B6349.

FURY has erupted in a north Northumberland village after plans for a nine-turbine windfarm were revealed – to be sited just south of another proposed 16-turbine windfarm.

In the past week, residents of Belford have received an information leaflet from Energiekontor UK Ltd about its proposals to site a windfarm of ‘up to nine wind turbines’ with a height of ‘no more than 100metres to blade tip’ on land north of Belford Moor, to be known as Belford Burn.

Committee members of the Middleton Burn Action Group, who are also opposing the Belford Burn proposal, including chairman Chris Craddock (back left) and vice-chairman Kerry Noble.

Committee members of the Middleton Burn Action Group, who are also opposing the Belford Burn proposal, including chairman Chris Craddock (back left) and vice-chairman Kerry Noble.

And it comes hot on the heels of the Middleton Burn project by Air Farmers Ltd for 16 turbines, 125metres to blade tip, which was revealed last September. This scheme has drawn a lot of criticism from campaigners and residents in Belford and the surrounding area and the group set up to fight the Middleton Burn plans has expressed outrage at the new proposals.

Chris Craddock, chairman of the Middleton Burn Action Group, said: “We regard this latest proposal with grave concern.

“Our constitution allows us to oppose any wind turbine development in the Belford area and we certainly intend to fight this one.

“It threatens to dominate views in the area every bit as much as Middleton Burn will and the cumulative effect of two industrial developments totalling some 25 turbines would be nothing short of catastrophic for the village and the surrounding countryside.

“It is bound to have a devastating effect on tourism in the area, an industry which is crucial to our economy and local employment, and will itself offer few, if any, jobs to local people.

“The vast profits from these schemes, paid for by what is effectively a surcharge on electricity customers’ bills, will, of course, go abroad. Our action group, although only a couple of months old, has over 300 members and is growing fast.

“If local democracy means anything their voice will be listened to and we will be able to put a stop to the imposition of these ugly, ineffective, and grotesquely expensive white elephants.”

In the project newsletter sent to residents, Energiekontor, who describe themselves as a leading European windfarm development company, says that Belford Burn is a suitable site for turbines because ‘the open and elevated nature of the site indicates that there is potentially a good wind resource that will enable the production of significant amounts of electricity’ and ‘the site does not lie within any areas that have been designated as being nationally important for wildlife, landscape or cultural heritage protection’.

It also talks of a community fund of ‘£3,000 per MW of installed capacity per annum’, which would equate to ‘up to £67,500 per year’, depending on the final capacity of the windfarm.

A statement from the company this week said: “Energiekontor UK Ltd will be holding public exhibitions at Belford First School on March 12 from 5pm to 9pm and on March 13 from 6pm to 9pm.

“These exhibitions are intended to introduce the proposed development to the local community and to highlight some of the broad planning and environmental considerations associated with the development of a windfarm at the Belford Burn site.

“It is also an opportunity to receive feedback from the community on the proposals which can be taken on board as part of the design process.

“The Belford Burn proposal is still at an early stage of the planning and development process.

“The project is currently in the design phase and is likely to change as information comes forward as part of the consultation and environmental assessment phases.

“We have undertaken initial feasibility studies to determine whether turbines can be located on the site in principle, however, we are yet to carry out detailed design and assessment work to determine the precise number and layout of wind turbines on the site.

“The public exhibitions are an important part of this process. We intend to hold further exhibitions once the design of the windfarm is finalised.”

None of the councillors who represent the area were able to comment without forfeiting their right to comment on any final planning application.